The Marrèd Drives of Windsor

(notes by John Radcliffe and John McGivering)


In his Bibliography,  David Alan Richards notes that the first part of the play was published in The Flag in 1908 with a second scene “An Unrecorded Trial”, in The Car on July 25, 1913. There is an American copyright edition of 1913. The play was collected in vol. xxv of the Bombay Edition ‘The Muse Among the Motors’ in 1919.

A revised text of the whole appeared in Poems, 1886-1929 in 1929. Since this seems to have been the first publication  of the whole play, we have referred to this oublication in our tables of lists of the verse. The same text, with the twenty-five other poems of the series appeared in Inclusive Verse in 1933, Definitive Verse in 1940, the Sussex Edition vol. xxxv, pp. 149-166, and the Burwash Edition vol. xxviii.

In the various revisions of the play the former title “An Unrecorded Trial” was changed to “The Marrèd Drives of Windsor” and the Acts were renumbered.

The story

Like “The Merry Wives of Windsor” on which its title is based, it has a complicated and improbable plot, ending with the survival of Falstaff after various undignified adventures in which he displays wit, impudence, a splendid flow of language, and a thirst for strong drink.

With Prince Hal and his followers, Falstaff has been driving through London. Their car has broken down in the City, and they have repaired exhausted to a tavern for some restorative sack. There they hear that Poins has restarted the car, and that it has gone out of control, running people over, battering a house, and now lying wrecked.

They are brought to trial at Westminster before the Lord Chief Justice on trumped-up charges for speeding, where they are successfully defended by Portia. She argues that the accident was not their fault, that cars have their life-saving uses, that the Judge should be merciful, and that in any case it is too late to try to hold back the motor age. When asked by the Prince what reward she seeks, she asks for her own car.

Various other Shakespearian characters appear, including Ariel, Hamlet, Shylock, Benedick, Beatrice, and Andrew Aguecheek, making speeches echoing well-known lines, and giving the author further opportunities for exuberant parody. The Prince buys an insurance policy from Shylock, and Feste the jester brings down the curtain with a plangent lament.

Some critical comments

Ann Weygandt notes (pp. 34/35) that as a schoolboy at United Services College:

… Kipling had “hundreds of old plays” at his disposal in the
Head’s library, and we gather from a remark in “The Uses
of Reading”
[A Book of Words p. 92] that the Elizabethan dramatists meant a great
deal to him … his true devotion is evidently to Shakespeare, and to a lesser extent to Marlowe

Weygandt continues (pp. 58/59):

A survey of Kipling’s passing references to Shakespeare has
shown us the extent of his acquaintance with his elder, and
provided us with a theory as to his favorite plays. But if
Kipling had made no allusions to them save in “The Marrèd
Drives of Windsor,” … we should still have been able to arrive
at conclusions concerning his knowledge of, and preferences
for, Shakespeare’s various works.

… the parody is, however, very uneven; the blank verse and prose suffer, although not constantly, from the disability already complained of in the songs … Direct parody weakens, but the use of words and phrases employed by Shakespeare is legitimate and effective; it adds power to Falstaff’s opening speeches, which are among the best—both in themselves and as imitations—in the play…

The merits of the parts of the “Marrèd Drives” vary, as
we have seen, but both the good parody and the bad reveal
Kipling’s intimacy with Shakespeare.

Kipling and Shakespeare

Harry Ricketts (p. 63) tells of a parlour-game in the Kipling household in Lahore:

Sometimes they would have a Shakespeare evening, with only quotations from the Bard allowed and no checking of references until the following morning. Part of the fun was to see how much fake Shakespeare they could get away with undetected. Rud, already an accomplished parodist, was especially good at coming up with plausible lines such as

My liege of Westmoreland, thy pinnace stays
To give you waftage to the further shore…

Which, if challenged, he would assign to “the Richards” or “the Henrys”, Or they might spend the evening making up spoofs of their favourite English and American poets.

See also our notes on his “How Shakespeare came to write “The Tempest” “. Also the notes by Lisa Lewis on his uncompleted pseudo-Jacobean play “Gow’s Watch” .

The Preface

This apology for the piece is in the dignified style of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), known as Dr Johnson—English essayist, poet, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer—who is often regarded as one of the most distinguished men of letters in English history. His edition of the works of Shakespeare with notes and emendations appeared in 1765.

Johnson, seldom using a short word if he can find a long one, begins with somewhat faint praise of the play, but finds some good in it as a release from the demands of scholarship, in a similar manner to the relief found in laughter. Dr Tompkins examines this in her Chapter 2, where she looks at some of the laughter-provoking stories; observing that:

What strain, then, requires to be relaxed in such boisterous abandon ? Kipling is not explicit in the tales themselves, but, tucked away where one would least think of looking for it, in the Johnsonian Preface to ‘The Marrèd Drives of Windsor’… we find the assertion that ’those same forces of natural genius, which expatiate in splendour and passion, demand for their refreshment and sanity an abruptness of release and lawlessness of invention, proportioned to precedent constrictions.’

See Shakespeare in Themes in Kipling’s Works, for the tales, and for the poems  “The Coiner” and “The Craftsman”.

Notes on the Text

[Title] A pun on Shakespeare’s play “The Merry Wives of Windsor” – ‘mar’ in this context meaning to spoil.


The Preface

[Line 5] Hamlet:  Prince of Denmark, the central figure of Shakespeare’s great tragedy.

[Line 5] Falstaff: the roistering, drunken companion of Prince Hal, in Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Henry IV”, rejected when the Prince becomes King,.as Henry V.

[Line 14] concatenation: a linking together

[Line 14] adumbrate: to give only the main facts and not the details about a matter; in modern parlance, to summarise.

[Lines 15-18]  an awful, if fleeting, visitation of self-knowledge:   between “Unconfined truth” and “True enough


Act I

Dramatis Personae: Characters in the play. Argument in this context means a summary.

Falstaff: a fat and drunken knight who appears in “Henry IV, Parts I & II”, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, and “Henry V”.

Nym: a corporal, a follower of Falstaff in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Henry V”.

Poins: (the spelling varies) “Henry IV, Part I” and Part II, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”

Bardolph: another follower of Falstaff, who figures in “Henry IV, Part I,” “The Merry Wives of Windsor” etc. He has a very red face, for which he is mocked by Falstaff, and is later hanged for stealing from a church.

Fluellen:  a Welsh soldier, occasionally rather a figure of fun, in “Henry V”.

Prince Henry: (1387-1422) son of Henry IV, known when young as ‘Prince Hal’, who succeeded his father as Henry V. Falstaff and his followers were friends of his youth – leading each other into various escapades. When he reaches years of discretion—in Shakespeare’s account—the Prince ruthlessly disowns Falstaff: ‘I know thee not, old man’. [Henry IV Part II, Act V.]

The Boar’s Head: a famous tavern on the north side of Eastcheap, an important street in the City of London, running from the Monument towards the Tower. In Shakespeare’s plays it was a regular haunt of the Prince and his friends. It was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London (1666) and demolished in 1831.

[Line 1] sack: fortified wine, like sherry, imported from Spain and the Canary Islands.

[Line 2] Falstaff refused to march his ragged band of followers through the city.:  a reference to “Henry IV, Part I”.

[Line 5] Hostess: she is Mistress Quickly, hostess of The Boar’s Head in Eastcheap, in “Henry IV, Part I”.

[Line 6] carbonadoed:  sliced, hacked, or possibly charcoal-grilled (OED)

[Line 13]  masked:  see  “To Motorists” line 6. [D.H.]

[Line 17] these eyes have seen the Lord’s  Anointed:   reminiscent of the opening of the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic‘ [D.H.]

[Line 18] the Lord’s Anointed: Since ancient times kings in Christian countries have been anointed—smeared with holy oil—at their coronation, as a mark of divine approval. Falstaff is premature; Henry would not be anointed until he succeeded his father to the Crown.

This echoes the 18th-century song “The Vicar of Bray”, about a vicar who skilfully adapted his preaching to the political climate of the day. In the reign of Charles II, he insisted:

‘Kings are by God appointed,
And Damn’d are those who dare resist
Or touch the Lord’s Anointed…’

[Line 22] foining: thrusting with a pointed weapon.

[Line 22] Shrewsbury Castle: Henry IV defeated the rebellious Percies there in 1403 (“Henry IV, Part I”).

[Line 29] the street being full of Ephesians of the old church: the reference is to St Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, the people of Ephesus. whom he was anxious to reconcile with other Christian churches. Falstaff probably means old-fashioned people opposed to motoring and motorists.

Daniel Hadas adds:  Perhaps the allusion is to Acts of the Apostles, 19.23-40, where a mob of Ephesians is in tumult against St Paul, for fear that the Christian mission is detracting from the cult of Artemis in Ephesus. [D.H.]

[Line 34] Jove: or Jupiter, King of the gods, and the god of sky and thunder in Roman mythology.

[Line 37] Sackerson: a bear used for the cruel and long illegal “sport” of bear-baiting, by dogs, carried on in a pit at Paris Garden on Bankside, just over the Thames from the City of London in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

[Line 40] Sheriff’s Watch: an early form of police.

red flag: required to be carried in front of motor vehicles until the repeal of the 1865 Locomotive Act. This also required vehicles to travel no faster than 4 mph (6·4 km/h).

[Line 41] Jack: in this context, not only a Christian name but also an apparatus for lifting a vehicle off the ground in order to change a wheel.

[Line 42] stamped like a butter-pat: hand-churned butter was usually impressed with the emblem of the farm it came from with a wooden ‘stamp’.

[Line 49]  turkey-poult: See OED, ‘a young domestic chicken, turkey, pheasant, or other fowl being raised for food.’:

[Line 50] plumbago:    An evergreen plant with medicinal poperties.

[Line 46] Atlas: a hero of various legends – usually seen holding the world on his shoulder.

[Line 48] Faugh!: an exclamation of disgust and surprise used by Ben Jonson [Oxford English Dictionary]. See Kipling’s parody of Jonson, “To a Lady, Persuading Her to a Car” .

a smutty-wicked lamp: an oil lamp is liable to smoke if the wick is not trimmed occasionally to remove the burnt particles.

[Line 50] buckbasket: a (usually) wicker basket used for laundry. The bodies of some cars were then made of basketwork.

[Line 54] Brugs’ Hall window: probably the famous windows in Bruges Town Hall in Belgium.

[Line 55] ‘prentices: apprentices – young men bound by contract to serve their masters for seven years to learn a trade. They were liable to riot on occasion.

What- Ho!: “What-Ho – She Bumps !” is a once famous music-hall song by Harry Castling (1865-1933), a lyricist who had many similar successes. Kipling loved the ‘Halls’, which were the main places of entertainment for working people in his early days in London.

[Line 61] turnspit: in this context the simple machinery that revolves a joint of meat before the fire, or the boy that turns it; a menial task.

[Line 61] lieges: the word ‘liege’ describes a feudal relationship based on service.  In this case it is used of an inferior in the relationship.

[Line 62] Apollo:  also known as Helios or Hyperion, the sun-god of Greek legend, who drove the chariot of the sun which was drawn by white horses.

[Line 63] Phæton:  son of Phoebus, God of the Sun, who drove his father’s chariot but was ‘upset’, causing parts of Africa to become desert. An elegant four-wheeled carriage is named after him.

[Llne 70] Walloons: French-speaking descendants of the ancient Belgæ living in what is now Belgium and part of France; good soldiers, they appear in several of the plays. In the early days of motoring Walloons were often employed as chauffeurs in England.

[Line 73] Dumain: there are several characters of this name but none is royal. It is possible that Kipling, working from memory, has confused this name with John, Count of Dunois, an illegitimate son of Louis, Duke of Orleans, who appears with Joan of Arc in “King Henry VI Part I”. It is not clear why Kipling’s Falstaff utters such a tirade here, echoing “The Justice’s Tale”.

[Line 78] corn-cutter: an early chiropodist. who treated afflictions of the feet, and was skilled at removing ‘corns’, painful accretions of horny skin.

[Line 78] Ypres: a Belgian city in the Flemish province of West Flanders.

[Line 79] Rouen: the historic capital of Normandy in northern France on the River Seine. Talbot was captured there when Falstaff deserted him. (“Henry IV” Part I).

[Line 83] Holborn: a district of London and an important street mentioned in “Richard III”.

kennel: a sleeping place for a dog. In this context the gutter.

[Line 88] cote-armour: usually ‘coat-armour’, the coat of arms born on his armour by a gentleman or nobleman. See “A Displaie of New Heraldrie”.

[Line 89] ostler:  a stable-man who looks after horses.

[Line 90] oiling:  the cars of the time had to be lubricated by hand with an oil can.

[Line 92] three baronies in eight hours: a barony was the land subject to a baron and could consist of estates scattered throughout the country. An echo of “The Moral”: ‘I’ll sling you through six counties in a day’.

[Line 93] the very essence of the petrol that fumes him: petrol, then as now, was the main fuel for cars, known as ‘gasoline’ in the USA, and ‘essence’ in France. According to Kipling’s footnote, it is as explosive as a petard, an archaic word for bomb.

This is an echo of “Hamlet” (Act III scene iv): ‘For ’tis the sport to see the engineer Hoist with his own petar’ (blown up by his own bomb). Kipling amuses himself with footnotes to give an air of scholarship to this delightful fragment.

Horne Took:  This is a joke, not a genuine reference. So also below, for Warburton, Nessa Droenbergh, Callowitz, M. Mason.  [D.H.]

[Line 95] the first speed: gears were known as ‘speeds’ at the time.

[Line 102] vizaments: the process of looking at or viewing; observation, notice, attention, consideration. [Oxford English Dictionary]. Fluellen is given Shakespeare’s idea of a Welsh accent, much as Kipling makes Mulvaney what some readers see as a stage Irishman in the Soldier stories.

[Line 103] Monmouth: a town in southeast Wales, and county town of the historic County of Monmouthshire, close to the English border.  Henry V, immortalised by Shakespeare for his victory over the French at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, was born in Monmouth Castle in 1387, and brought up at Courtfield nearby.

[Line 105] Pabes: babes, ‘ooman (woman), tamnably (damnably), all express Fluellen’s Welsh accent.

[Line 109] crowns: a play on words – the crown worn by a king and the top of the head.

[Line 111] Most gracious lord…:  the heralds, being dignified officers, speak in dignified decasyllables, as do other characters below.

[Loine 111] unattended revolution:  a joke on the revolutions of the motor, in contrast with the “rebellion” Falstaff has just predicted. [D.H.]

[Line 117] touring-car: this usually implied an open car, with or without a moveable hood, as opposed to a fully-enclosed saloon; sometimes the passengers were enclosed but not the driver, in which case the car was a sedanca.

The Touraine: an ancient province of France, with its capital at Tours – now divided between the departments of Indre-et-Loire, Loir-et-Cher and Indre. It is the scene of some of the Plays.

William Warburton: (1698-1779), Bishop of Gloucester and Shakespearian scholar. We have not traced his observation about the Touraine cart.

[Line 118] heroics: in this context, verse in epic poetry, with lines of eight or ten syllables.

[Line 120] boltered brow: the hair matted with clotted blood – an echo of “Macbeth”: ‘The blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon me.’

Daniel Hadas notes:   Pinney has bolstered, without variants.  Should bolstered be correct (which I doubt): OED gives “padded, stuffed out” as a possible meaning for the word. From this, I think the sense here would be “swollen”. [D.H.]

[Line 126] Anon:  in this context,  ‘soon’.

{Line 123]  drew out: withdrew, as in a battle, perhaps in motoring parlance, ‘reversed’.

[Line 131] the Duchy: he was created Duke of Lancaster on 10 November 1399.

[Line 134] Star Chamber: an echo of “The Merry Wives of Windsor”. This court took its name from the “Star Chamber” or “Starred Chamber” built for the meetings of the King’s Council. It was created inder Henry VII (1485-1509) to ensure the effective enforcement of laws against people so powerful that ordinary courts could never convict. The Court sat in private with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses; evidence was presented in writing. Indictment before the Court of Star Chamber was thus a very serious matter.

[Line 135] Glasses, Glasses, glasses is the only drinking: “Henry IV“.

Doll: an abbreviation of Dorothy. ‘Doll Tearsheet’ appears in several of Skakespeare’s plays and though described as “a gentlewoman” is probably no better shan she should be; ‘Tearsheet’ is believed to be a corruption of Tearstreet – a prostitute.

[Line 137] attainder:  the forfeiture of land and civil rights suffered as a consequence of a sentence of death for treason or felony.

[Line 138] herein fail not at your peril: the wording often appearing in a subpoena, a formal document summoning a witness to court.

[Line 139] some dealings with this same Chief Justice: he severely admonishes Falstaff in “Henry IV Part II”.

[Line 142] Exeunt: A stage direction -They exit. (Latin.)


Act II

Dramatis Personae

Prince Henry, Poins etc. see Act I

Lord Chief Justice: the head of the judiciary in England, among the judges second only to the Lord Chancellor.

Dogberry:  a constable in “Much Ado About Nothing” and Kipling’s “The Tour” .

Portia: disguises herself as a “young doctor of Rome” and successfully defends Antonio in court in “The Merchant of Venice” against the demands of Shylock. Here she represents Prince Henry and his party before the Lord Chief Justice.

Justice Shallow: a country justice in “Henry IV Part II” and ”The Merry Wives of Windsor”. He says he will make “a Star-Chamber matter” of Falstaff’s offences. A distinguished visitor was usually given a seat alongside the judge.

[Line 1] red rear-lamp: Bardolph has a very red face.

[Line 2] Southwark:  a district of London just over the Thames from the City.

[Line 6] fed my father’s exchequer: he had been fined for two offences. The ‘exchequer’ is the financial department of government.

[Line 13] ropperies: robberies.

[Line 15] When they cry Budget:  To play (at) mumbudget: to keep silent.
(now archaic). [Oxford English Dictionary].

[Line 16] shake spheres … the globe:  I missed this until I read it out loud, but “shake spheres” = “Shakespeare”, and so “the globe” is a reference to the Globe theatre. Kipling’s footnote here, therefore, contains an additional joke beyond the parody: the annotator has an insanely complex way of spotting Bacon’s name in the text, when in fact Shakespeare’s name is hiding in plain sight. [D.H.]

[Line 17] Welsh flannel: a famous hard-wearing cloth, made in Wales.

[Line 22] steeped crusts: crusts of bread soaked in (probably) milk

[Line 23] mumble: In this context ‘to eat slowly and ineffectually; to chew as with toothless gums’. Now rare. [Oxford English Dictionary].

[Line 35] ink-horn: the horn of a cow or other animal made into an ink-bottle and worn on the girdle.

[Line 36]  with like shame to the enduer:    endue  ultimately derives from Latin “induo”, which means, among other things, to put on a garment, which fits better. But “wearer” wouldn’t work with “license” part of the sentence, for which the original sense of “enduer” fits better. Kipling seems to be balancing between the two senses: Falstaff grants himself (or the Chief Justice refuses to grant him?) the license to stretch his humour too far, just as the wearer of the old garment stretches that too far. [D.H.]

[Line 42] ten leagues the hour: 30 miles, or 48 km. per hour – a great speed in those days.

[Line 46] a stopped watch: a stopwatch is used for ascertaining speeds

[Line 47] forsworn:  perjured, having lied on oath.

[Line 48]  knights of the post:  traffic police at their posts. [D.H.]

[Line 52] kennel:  in this context the gutter.

[Line 54] necessary wives:  the poet is using ‘necessary’ in an old sense, to mean ‘closely related or connected. [OED}

[Line 69]   antre:  cave (Wordsworth edition)

[Line 75]  yarks:  retches, vomits (OED)

[Line 57] In such a car as this: an echo of “The Merchant of Venice” Act V, scene 1, Lorenzo speaks:

The moon shines bright – in such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees…

[Line 66] Brighthelmstone: an early name for Brighton in Sussex, on the South coast of England.

[Line 61] Huntingdon: the county town of the shire of the same name, north of London, bordering on Cambridgeshire.

[Line 65] Berwick: Berwick-upon-Tweed  – an ancient town in Northumberland, on the east coast of England at the mouth of the River Tweed, just south of the Scottish border.

Glamorgan: a former county of Wales.

[Line 70] chirurgeon:  a surgeon (archaic) Portia’s speech—which somewhat echoes “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”—shows the benefit of the car by bringing the doctor to a sick child.

See “Contradictions” earlier in this series, and “ ‘They’ ” in Traffics and Discoveries.

[Line 72] fays:  fairies.

[Line 74] coney’s burrow: rabbit-hole.

[Line 76] thrid: to make one’s way through – to thread.

[Line 86] Cotsall: an alternative for ‘Cotswold’ used in several of Shakespeare’s plays. The Cotswold Hills are in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire in the west of England. See “Toby Dog” in Thy Servant a Dog p. 96 lines 3-5: ‘That place was colder than Cotswold when I was a young ’un.’

[Line 88] Doll: see Act I Line 135 above.

[Line 89] dunghill: a manure-heap. Falstaff is so addressed in “The Merry Wives of Windsor”.

[Line 93] the unprobeable decree: a decree that cannot be probed”, i.e. “unfathomable”. OED gives “probeable” in the sense “that can be probed”, although not before 1980.[D.H.]

[Line 99] Northumberland: Northumberland Avenue runs from Trafalgar Square to the Victoria Embankment in London

[Line 111]  in default of quail:  Portia is referring to the quails that rain down on the Israelites during their time with Moses in the desert: see Exodus 16.[D.H.]

[Line 115/6] Put … shentlemans:  but …. gentlemen. More expressions of Fluellen’s Welsh accent.

the sky shall rain larks: a proverb we have not traced.

[Line 116] bating miracle:  barring a miracle. [D,H,]

[Line 120] loverly:  like a lover (OED)

[Line 134] Where the car slips there slip I…: an echo of Ariel’s song in Act V of “The Tempest”: ‘Where the bee sucks there sip I…’.

[Line 139]  winkered: blinkered (OED)



Dramatis Personae

Beatrice: daughter of Leonato in “Much Ado About Nothing” A headstrong and outpoken girl.

Benedick:  a young lord in the same play who marries Beatrice

Hamlet:  Prince of Denmark and the central figure of the tragedy named after him

Shylock a principal character in “The Merchant of Venice” who lends Bassanio three thousand ducats without interest, but on forfeit of a pound of Antonio’s flesh if he defaults. He does so, failing to repay the loan, but Shylock cannot receive his forfeit as blood is not mentioned in the bond (contract). If Shylock sheds blood he breaks the law. Portia represents Bassanio and Antonio in court with extreme skill and eloquence, disguised as ‘a young doctor from Rome.’

Sir A Aguecheek: Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a character in “Twelfth Night”

Feste: Olivia’s Clown in the same play – see below

[Line 1] When that I had and a little tinny car..: an echo of: ‘When that I was and a little Tiny boy…’ Feste’s song at the end of Act V, “Twelfth Night”.

[Line 6] the wise child: an echo of the proverb: ‘It’s a wise child that known its own father’ There is a variation in “The Merchant of Venice” ‘it is a wise father that knows his own child.’

[Line 7] twin-brother:  As becomes clear when Hamlet enters and begins speaking about the characters’ creator, Falstaff and Hamlet are twins by the same father, Shakespeare. Kipling is suggesting these two characters, at extremes of the tragic and comic, are two sides of the same coin. This is brought out when they “talk apart” [D.H.]

[Line 7] begot … the cooler side of the blanket:  illegimate.

[Line 11] they pride apart:  A ‘pride’ is a group of lions forming a social unit. [Oxford English Dictionary].

[Line 16] bald-pated ostler to Pegasus : This is, of course, Shakespeare. I suggest he is “ostler to Pegasus” because the Hippocrene, sacred to the Muses, sprang from Pegasus’ foot. [D.H.]

[Line 19] Pegasus: The winged horse in Greek mythology which sprang from the blood of the Gorgon Medusa when she was beheaded by Perseus.

[Line 22] double: This pseudo-scholarly footnote explains the cryptogram which supports the theory that the works of Shakespeare were written by others—a belief that Kipling does not share—and is discussed in our notes on “The Propagation of Knowledge”.

See also “Dayspring Mishandled” (Limits and Renewals page 22 line 17) for another cypher devised by Kipling.

[Line 23]   arras:  a reference to the arras behind which Polonius is hiding when Hamlet stabs him. I think there’s a deliberate ambiguity about whether the “fat gentleman” is Falstaff or Hamlet. A Hamlet who’s a twin to Falstaff and comes in drunk could well be fat, and Nym’s joke makes better sense if the fat gentleman is Hamlet. [D/H.]

[Line 35] Bridewells: Bridewell Prison, on the River Fleet in central London, was established as a ‘House of Correction’ for disorderly women in 1553. It remained a prison until the mid-19th Century.

[Line 38] hearsays:  rumours – but Kipling’s footnote also quotes the punning hearses, implying as an untrained driver, Portia would be dangerous – hence the possible reference to a ‘hearse’, used for taking coffins to funerals.

Warburton: see the note on Act I [Line 117] above.

[Line 47] embraces on the wood:   the wood here must be some part of the car, presumably the wooden floorboards.

[Line 49] she-kite: the female bird of prey Milvus milvus.

[Line 51] entertain conjecture of a time: an echo of “Henry V” (Act IV, Prologue), on the eve of battle:

Now entertain conjecture of a time
When creeping murmur and the poring dark
Fills the wide vessel of the universe.
From camp to camp through the foul womb of night
The hum of either army stilly sounds,

[Line 52] horses fed to hounds: foxhounds are often fed on horsemeat but this implies all horses have been eaten and replaced by motor vehicles.

[Line 56] on the wood: A sarcastic footnote. In Kipling’s day, some streets in London were still surfaced with tarred wooden blocks, which were slippery in wet weather, so that motor-cyclists and their pillion-passengers often came to grief.

[Line 58] Signor: the Italian equivalent of Mister.

[Line 59] owlings: not found in the Oxford English Dictionary, but from context perhaps ‘howlings’.

[Line 60] va’ward :perhaps ‘vanguard’, the foremost division of an army in battle. See Steevens below.

[Line 63] To have at a man: to attack him, usually with a sword.

[Line 64] running-board: a step at the side of the car, nowadays only seen on 4 X 4s and commercial vehicles.

[Line 65] Claudio:  In “Much Ado About Nothing”, he slanders Hero on her wedding-day, and Beatrice tells Benedick to kill him.

[Line 68] I have a bond: This is an echo of “The Merchant of Venice”; see the note on Shylock above.

[Line 72] ducats: gold coins in use in Italy in Shakespeare’s day. Shylock loaned Bassanio three thousand ducats.

[Line 73] leech: in this context, a doctor of medicine

[Line 72] Jessica: Shylock’s daughter in “The Merchant of Venice”.

[Line 88] a mad woman: Ophelia in “Hamlet”.

[Line 89] borage: Borago officinalis an ingredient of some drinks – sometimes used in salads. Nicholas Culpeper in his Herbal of 1652, celebrated by Kipling in “A Doctor of Medicine” (Rewards and Fairies), provides authority for the footnote, calling borage: ‘one of the herbs of Jupiter – great cordials and great strengtheners of nature.’

Borage has many medicinal properties and has been used for treating various ailments, from sore throats to poultices for swellings. The ancient Greeks added it to wine and drank it before going into battle.

For Ophelia’s flowers see “Hamlet”, Act IV, scene v.:

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts … There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you ; and here’s
some for me. We may call it herb of grace a Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither’d
all when my father died.

[Line 101] arraigned:  accused.

[Line 102] murdress: probably Lady Macbeth, who kills the King.

[Line 102] whereto ours is the sun’s targe:  A targe is a shield. The shield doesn’t belong to the sun, but is the sun, shield-like in shape as seen in the sky. Falstaff is saying that his and Hamlet’s darkness of soul is as bright as the sun compared to the depths of darkness Shakespeare must have plumbed (“adventured down”) in order to create Lady Macbeth, Othello, Lear, and, paradoxically, Hamlet himself.[D.H.]

[Line 105] ensample:  example.

[Line 113] that car rolls:  Rolls-Royce is still a famous make of British car. In the 1920s Kipling drove many miles in France in his.

[Line 115] IIlyria: a country on the east coast of the Adriatic, scene of “Twelfth Night”.

let’s liquor out of him: let his drink out of him, relieve himself.

[Line 118] klaxon: a motor-horn with particularly harsh note.

sexton: a church official with various responsibilities including grave-digging.

Sir T. Hanmer: Sir Thomas Hanmer, 4th Baronet (1677-1746) Speaker of the House of Commons from 1714 to 1715 but probably best remembered as an early editor of the works of Shakespeare. He did not reveal his sources and is not, therefore, very highly regarded by scholars.

[Line 120] joiners:  men skilled in woodwork

[Line 123] beaks: slang for magistrates

[Line 124] roasting cabs: overheated motor taxi-cabs. An echo of the final lines of Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labours Lost” (Act V sc. ii):

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl;
Tu-whit, To-who ‘—A merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

The ‘roasted crabs’ are, of course, crab-apples rather than crustaceans, and the ‘parson’s saw’ a witticism rather than a tool.



 Nicholas Bacon: Sir Nicholas Bacon (1510-1579), English politician and father of Sir Francis Bacon.

Frances :Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, KC (1561-1626), son of Nicholas Bacon. He was a notable philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, and author.

distant and home signals: On a railway line, the “distant” signal is placed, as its name implies, a quarter-mile (400 metres) or so ahead of the “home” signal and repeats the message of the “home” signal in order to give the driver time to slow his train and stop if necessary.

Professor O. P. Callowitz :see our notes on “The Propagation of Knowledge”. We have not traced the Professor or his book but have found William Shakespeare Not an Impostor by An English Critic (J.Routledge & Co., 1857).

This play is evidence—if it were needed—that Kipling was not a Baconian. See also: “The Propagation of Knowledge”.

Mr. Malone: probably Edmond (Edmund ) Malone (1741-1812) Irish Shakespearean scholar and editor of his works.

 a Moor:  Othello.

a mad king  Lear”.

fifty roystering steeds: Fifty spirited horses, fifty horse-power. Horsepower (HP) was originally calculated so as to compare the power of steam engines with the power of draft horses. It was commonly used to express engine power in the early days of motoring. See Kipling’s poem “Song of Seventy Horses”. (Nowadays it is more common to refer to the cubic capacity of the engine, in litres or cubic centimetres.)

Steevens:  As “conjectural” indicates, Steevens is suggesting that “va’ward” means “ford”. The joke is that Steevens would mean “ford” in the sense of a ford over a river, but the reader of course thinks of the Ford motor car. The Model T began production in 1908, the year this piece was first published.



©John Radcliffe and John McGivering 2010 All rights reserved